Congressional Republicans see undue restrictions in 2017-22 OCS draft

Congressional Republicans—led by Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Lisa Murkowski (Alas.) and House Natural Resources Committee Chair Rob Bishop (Utah)—urged US Interior Sec. Sally Jewell to offer more tracts in currently open US Outer Continental Shelf areas and begin leasing in areas now off-limits under the next 5-year OCS program.

“The 2017-22 OCS 5-Year Program must represent a significant departure from the existing moratorium on the vast majority of the US OCS, and embrace America’s offshore energy program as a serious contributor to the nation’s standing as an energy superpower,” the 27 US Senate and 136 House members said in their Apr. 23 letter to the secretary.

Interior issued a draft proposed 2017-22 OCS plan in late January that would continue leasing in the central and western Gulf of Mexico, and proposes three sales off Alaska and one on the Mid-Atlantic OCS (OGJ Online, Jan. 27, 2015).

“While we were pleased to see the administration finally take a step in the right direction by including one potential lease sale in the Atlantic in the draft plan, this step was offset by additional restrictions in the Atlantic and area withdrawals in the offshore of Alaska,” the lawmakers said.

“When coupled with imposed [50-mile] buffer zones, and an insufficient number of lease sales—none of which are required to be held—this draft proposal fails to produce a long-term energy policy that harnesses the potential of our nation’s vast natural resources,” they said.

They sent their letter to Jewell a day after members of New Jersey’s delegation introduced bills in the Senate and House—with largely Democratic cosponsors from Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states—which would ban Atlantic OCS leasing in response to the 2017-22 DPP’s proposal for the first sale there in decades (OGJ Online, Apr. 23, 2015).

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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